yet another something to think about

After 49 years of going offshore fishing or working out of doors in the buiding trades have come realize that an old addage does indeed apply. There are many days when the sun rises so beautiful that you have to stop and just look, thank the cosmos for being allowed to see something special. Offshore there are days when the gods of the wind are kind, the seas are calm, the gods of machinery are happy, the gear comes up like clockwork and full of the finest kind of fish, scallops, shrimp, or lobsters. The gods of the hunt are favorable. Ashore there are days where the gang and materials show up on time, the weathers are good, people know what they are doing and do it, and the job comes together, again just like clockwork. The building gods are happy.

Then there are those days when you call the gang out of the bunk at 0300 after a loud bang and jolt because because the gear is hung down on a old wreck or a giant boulder, and it takes half the day to try and work it free before finally having a wire part off and only one door and half a net comes up, and most of all no fish. The gods of machinery and navigation were sleeping. Or the electrical gods are arguing and a generator goes on the fritz, or it starts snowing hard and the radars or the GPSs go down. Or the wind gods decide to blow and all of a sudden you are banging through 20′ seas hanging on with one hand and trying to do your work with the other.

Some days you get the bear, and some days the bear gets you. All in a days work they say, the good with the bad, the way it has always been. At the end of the trip or the end of the year you add it all up and pay the expenses and share up whatever is left. Nothing’s easy theory, or if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Dear reader if you are anything like me, or if your approach to living on this earth is anything like mine and those i see up close around me, then most of one’s energies have been focused on earning a living, raising and teaching a family, trying to be a good friend to those around you, generally trying to be a constructive responsible citizen. That’s how you do it, or at least it was until recently, because it may not be enough. Collectively the way we live has second order effects that are the opposite of the things that even the most aware, careful, and pono of us strive for.

In early February a new report came out from the UK Treasury – “Final Report – The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review”. Now there are so many papers, studies, and plans that get published every single day that it is near impossible to keep up with reading even the headlines or the abstracts. But this one might serve to truly change the way we need to think about our relationship to the world around us. And just maybe it should.

Here is a link to the main UK website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/final-report-the-economics-of-biodiversity-the-dasgupta-review

There you will find both the short versions and the full report (26 MB) in pdf and html formats, and i believe it helpful to start with the basic outline “Headline Messages” (10 pages, 1.84 MB). I submit the link to this report in hopes that it may spark comments and insights from our loyal local readership, but make no mistake it is not for the fainthearted.

Ennui, anomie and the attention economy

Like cats mesmerised by laser pointers, our attention is easily hijacked. Not surprisingly, given the kind of world we live in, it’s a trait which often gets exploited. The three-card trick; bared flesh on a magazine cover; rumours of immigrant takeover. As the internet commercialized it quickly diagnosed our readiness to give and call for attention, and accelerated the exploitation process (cunningly disguised) to supernatural speed and intensity. We hardly even had to pay for the privilege, except in something called personal data which we barely knew we had in the first place. But something else is going on too, massively amplified by the internet though not necessarily created by it.

Continue reading “Ennui, anomie and the attention economy”

The common objects of their love (2)

Reading what I wrote yesterday (part 1), it seems that trying to analyse the English word ‘love’ may have been a red herring. Augustine was a Berber who grew up in what is now Algeria, in the late 4th century, and was educated and wrote in Latin. Whatever he meant by ‘love’ is unlikely to square with the connotations the word carries for us in early 21st century English. Catholic theologians, responding to Biden’s speech online, emphasize that Augustine would have been thinking of Godly devotion as the primary force knitting a multitude into one people.

Continue reading “The common objects of their love (2)”

The common objects of their love (1)

A week ago Joe Biden – President Joe Biden – said this in his inaugural speech:

Many centuries ago, Saint Augustine, a saint in my church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love.

That phrase, common objects of their love, attracted my attention, for reasons I’ll explain in the second part of this post. But first a sideways step. Because Biden’s reference got me wondering what love means here. I wanted to try and iron this out before getting back to the new president, and Augustine, because love clearly means different things in different contexts. Sometimes wildly different things.

Continue reading “The common objects of their love (1)”

A Retrospective on the Prospect of a Small Farm Future

I have been a fan of Chris Smaje’s blog A Small Farm Future for a while, and it has changed the way I think about what I do for a living and what we are all doing for our livings.  Smaje’s eclectic but thoughtful posts, and the lively commentary that ensues, provide all the geeky pleasures of a graduate seminar run by a fair-minded yet passionate professor.  Or even more accurately, all of the geeky pleasures of a beer-fueled conversation with a deep-resumed group of agrarian thinkers from around the world.   Continue reading “A Retrospective on the Prospect of a Small Farm Future”

Quite Possibly the Nicest Person on the Internet

This Thanksgiving weekend I am thankful for Julian Hoffman, who manages to be – on Twitter @JulianHoffman – a good, kind, humble person.  That is a difficult thing to do in a medium that rewards controversy, snark, and self-aggrandizement.  Julian Hoffman shows it does not have to be that way: that you can be supportive of other writers and Twitter users, that you can post fascinating, subtle photos and video of the natural world, that you can showcase the work of those who are standing up for and nurturing the non-human world and their local communities.   With a following in the thousands, he is successful by any rational, non-toxic definition of success as well, and his internet persona is a welcome tonic to the generally low internet standard of behavior. Continue reading “Quite Possibly the Nicest Person on the Internet”

A Renaissance is coming – David Wayne Fitzsimmons

We the People have voted, we have made our choices clear, and the path forward is constrained by all the built in checks and balances, and what appears to be a foot dragging fetish. The following is a piece from David Wayne Fitzsimmons, normally a political cartoonist published regularly in the Arizona Daily Star. It was forwarded to me from FB.

While this piece was published before Election Day a new administration will not be inaugurated for another two months so none of the concepts presented have been acted upon. However this exhortation offers food for thought, most especially the idea that democracy is not something that we have or can be given but is something that we do, with voting a small part of it. That said I cannot agree with all the language herein, in particular the parts implying American exceptionalism. Much damage has been done, both by a malignant demagogue and an apparently apathetic public. As well the wildfire virus is currently out of control. We have a long road ahead to regain our place as a partner among equals, much less to regain leadership. This essay asks some necessary though painful questions.

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“Will a virus kill our economy? Will our dollar lose its value? Will a civil war follow Tuesday? Will we tear each other apart? Or will we pull together, as we always have, to collectively rebuild our nation?

It is up to you, dear citizen.

I believe an American Renaissance is coming.

After the Black Death the survivors looked to the past for inspiration, beyond the recent Dark Ages, to classical Greece and Rome, which led to a flowering of enlightenment, the arts and sciences.

Out of the rubble an American Renaissance will emerge. And there will be a rubble of historic scale.

What is the future you want, citizen? A continuation of the Dark Ages or Renaissance?

A new President will have no choice but to call for the most radical sweeping legislation in the history of our Republic, a vast Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of our nation.

Are you in, dear citizen?

Will we cobble together a European-style blend of socialism and capitalism with healthcare a right, public service honorable, and sacrifice understood?

Will we reform our politics, creating a responsive accountable high tech transparent political system?

Will we have the will to strip money from our corrupt political system?

Your call, citizen.

Will we put country first and embrace the collective action our enormous challenges call for?

What say you, citizen?

Will we reward evidence-based policy makers and shun the donor-based policy makers that serve the narrow and forsake the Common Good?

Will rule by the obscenely rich end? Will you ask them to nourish the profoundly wounded Republic in which they flourished? Will Americans, in a protracted Depression, drive a tax collector’s spigot into the neck of every freeloading million, billion and zillionaire to lift up our nation, as all of us are asked to do?

Tell us what you think on Tuesday, citizen.

Will our nation put the vast jobless multitudes to work, leaning into restoring and building the next America, while an army of Americans will test and track this pandemic into containment?

It is up to you, dear exhausted citizen.

This can be the American Century, if you wish it so, citizen.

With innovation, science and tech know-how the United States of America will lead the way in combating climate change, bringing our people unparalleled prosperity.

Only if you wish it so.

Will we rebuild our nation’s bridges, roads, universities, and ports?

Will we upgrade public education and our entire digital infrastructure with the newest and best state of the art know-how that made us the envied and admired standard for the globe?

It is up to you, citizen.

From sea to rising sea we must combat climate change with the zeal and commitment of the America that liberated the world from Fascism in the second World War. We must build wind farms, solar farms, electric charging stationswith the patriotic zealwith which the Greatest Generation churned out the men, arms, bombers, and tanks that conquered an existential threat to our lives.

Our youth that vote on Tuesday will inherit this fight. They have no choice. They will be our next Greatest Generation.

Do you stand with them, citizen?

America surrendered to the threat of an invading virus because we chose to be led by a cabal of ignominious know-nothings who have poisoned truth with their malignant anti-science, anti-reason, and anti-education ethos.

Is that your America, citizen?

On Tuesday, it is up to you to deliver reactionary politics to history’s freezer.

Will America, reborn, seek truth, justice, and reconciliation?

Entirely up to you this Tuesday.

Will America, reborn, tear the cancer of racism from our hearts and finally embrace our diversity, and lift up our brothers and sisters?

Ball’s in your court.

Will America, reborn, fund public education at levels appropriate for a People willing to pay the price to make America a first rate world power, a light for the World? Will we reignite Liberty’s torch on election day? Will we choose the American Renaissance?

It is up to you, citizen.

Election Aftermath

The United States made the right choice after, to paraphrase  Churchill, exhausting all other options.  It would have been nice if we hadn’t gone down the Trump path but perhaps it was necessary to learn some lessons the hard way.  Hopefully he will soon be a distant figure in the rear view window, but before we pull away it would be wise to learn what we can from Trumpism. So here’s my post-election blog.   Continue reading “Election Aftermath”

Healing the Hearts and Minds of America

The Vatican has announced Pope Francis’s new encyclical, Fratelli tutti – dedicated to “fraternity” and “social friendship”.

“We live in a time marked by war, poverty, migration, climate change, economic crises, and pandemic.  Recognizing a brother or sister in everyone we meet…reminds us that no one can ever emerge from the present hardships alone, one against the other, the global North against the global South, the rich against the poor or any other excluding differentiation.” 

These words resonated with me as our nation faces the outcome of one of the most difficult and consequential presidential elections in our history.  Continue reading “Healing the Hearts and Minds of America”

On the Eve of an Apocalyptic Election

Having already voted by mail in our tiny, over-whelmingly blue state, we wait, with bated breath and knotted stomachs, for the results. 

The results of Tuesday’s elections for the US president will have far-reaching impacts – around the globe and on our individual lives.  The results of the Bush v. Gore election, for instance, led to wars which called my daughter’s father, a helicopter mechanic for the Army National Guard, away to long deployments on military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, and contributed, I think, to his early death. On a larger scale, the results of that millennial election meant that the US did not exercise its potential for global leadership towards lowering greenhouse gas emissions and reducing pollution, as might have happened under Gore.  It is my daughter’s generation that will feel the impact of that election acutely.  Continue reading “On the Eve of an Apocalyptic Election”